THE MIDDLE: TIPS FOR HEALTHY CONFLICT RESOLUTION
You can usually find me and my kids blasting music in my car and singing at the top of our lungs. Lately, our favorites are from The Greatest Showman soundtrack because, duh, if you haven't seen the movie you simply must. Thank me later.
I don’t make it a habit to analyze pop songs because it seems petty and honestly a bit unimaginative but in the context of what I would like to talk to you about today it seems like a good jumping off point. Have you heard the song The Middle by Zedd and Maren Morris? Gosh that girl can sing and the song is SO catchy. But the lyrics got me thinking. This song paints the picture of a couple who apparently had a massive fight that went too far. Even if you haven't heard the song it's clear just by the lyrics that this couple has a dysfunctional relationship or at minimum unhealthy conflict resolution. In particular the lines "dishes are broken" and "got so aggressive". The idea in this song is that this couple has had a fight and now one of them is begging the other to meet them halfway and lets make up now. To be honest that just stressed me out a little just trying to explain. Ha! Anyway can we take a sec and discuss that FIRST, if dishes are broken...that's unhealthy. And if it got aggressive in any way...that's wrong and extremely unhealthy. Just wanted to make that clear.
All couples fight. They do.
Did you know there is actually a productive and healthy way to argue? One main difference in an unhealthy relationship and a healthy one is the manner in which you fight. There is a right way to have conflict and even grow from the resolution found. SO...
Here are my Top 3 Rules For Healthy Conflict Resolution:
1.) Fight for resolve not to be right.
The goal should be to learn each other better. To have a better understanding and appreciation for the way your spouse/significant other feels and thinks. You will go in circles and things will continually escalate if your goal is simply to be right. Trust me I've been there and still have to fight the urge but it only makes matters worse. When I want to fight for "my way" or to be right I have to take my worries to the Lord and remember I'm accountable for my actions.
Proverbs 15:1-4 (TPT) 1 Respond gently when you are confronted and you’ll defuse the rage of another. Responding with sharp, cutting words will only make it worse. Don’t you know that being angry can ruin the testimony of even the wisest of men? 2 When wisdom speaks, understanding becomes attractive. But the words of the fool make their ignorance look laughable. 3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere and he takes note of everything that happens. He watches over his lovers, and he also sees the wickedness of the wicked. 4 When you speak healing words, you offer others fruit from the tree of life. But unhealthy, negative words do nothing but crush their hopes.
2.) No nagging zone.
Eww. Even the word nag is ugly. And being one isn't very pleasant either. It's more than just picking your battles. It's about living with a clean heart before the Lord. Those little frustrations like the wet towel on the floor and the anger filled swipe to pick it up have way more to do with YOU than with your unhelpful spouse. I don't mean be a doormat that just does everything sacrificially. There is a productive way to mention things to your spouse and it starts with making sure your heart is free from bitterness and spite before you bring it up. Deal with your junk first before you bring up theirs. It's much better to do so in a moment of calm and clarity to say, " Hey babe, I have been working hard to keep up with the house and it really helps me when you put your towels in the hamper. Do you think you could help me with that a bit more?" You might have just laughed out loud reading that suggestion. I personally have decided my house will be a place of peace and joy. Which means I have to be intentional about it and fight for it most days. And if I am walking around with constant huffing and puffing, eye rolling and talking under my breath about how no one helps me I'm not creating the atmosphere I desire to have. Laugh away at my approach but at least give it a shot. You might be shocked how much more effectively you are communicating and how much more inner peace you have too.
3.) Remember you are on the same team.
Not a competition. Often I see couples who eventually begin to resent each other because there seems to be this underlying competitive spirit between them. It often comes out in heated moments of frustration and sounds a bit like this..." You have no idea how many hours I worked this week." " Well, YOU have no idea how many diapers I changed today." Jeff and I have had similar arguments explaining our side and declaring our needs. It's not about who does more or who sacrifices more. It's about both of you appreciating what the other one does and that you are both contributing to the overall vision for your family. It looks different for each of you and will constantly change and adjust in different seasons. Start by taking a moment and thinking about how your spouse works, provides, considers and spends time building a better life with you. It looks different but both crucial and valuable.
Instead of meeting in the middle why not just live there? =) I pray this helps today. Let me know in the comments, ask me your questions, and feel free to subscribe and SHARE!!! ~ Amy Smith
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